Background

The AgriProfiles portal

In order to facilitate better collaboration between agricultural research actors and ensure more effective management of research projects and more rational funding, it is desirable to have access to comprehensive information on people's expertise, areas of activities of Institutions, existing projects in specific areas and countries, related events and publications.

An information system that aimed at giving access to such information should: a) go beyond closed communities and directories (search several communities and directories, allow to share people profiles, affiliations, competencies, projects, publications across communities); b) go beyond serendipity, gathering information systematically, organizing data by discipline, affiliation, topic, geographic scope and providing context, in order to discover what is happening and who does what through meaningful relationships.

An existing project that does something similar is VIVO, started at Cornell University in 2003. VIVO is a research-focused discovery tool that enables collaboration among scientists across all disciplines at Cornell University. It allows to browse information on people, departments, courses, grants, and publications following an ontology-based navigation.

In 2012 Cornell University, the Global Forum on Agricultural Research and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations launched an adaptation of the VIVO model for agricultural research and related sectors, funded through GFAR, called AgriVIVO. AgriVIVO customized the VIVO model to better suit the organization of agricultural research and integrated data relevant to agricultural research management from a few institutional or community databases.

In 2014, after consultations with other partners who were also working on VIVO and on the idea of distributed but interlinked databases of profiles of experts and organizations, the portal changed its name to AgriProfiles and became part of a wider effort.

The AgriProfiles worldwide effort

Considering the potential of VIVO, international organizations like CGIAR, FAO, GFAR and IICA as well as US institutions like USDA and Cornell University have joined efforts to promote and adapt VIVO according to their own needs and realities. Prior efforts and pilot initiatives like AgriVIVO or VIVO in Latin America, including VIVO adaptation into Spanish, have acted as proof of concept for the linking of professionals around the globe.

In 2014, University of Cornell, FAO, GFAR and IICA, met in Costa Rica to explore what was happening and where we wanted to go with this type of solution under the larger picture of the CIARD movement. As a conclusion, the idea of an Agriprofiles (Agroperfiles in Spanish) distributed project was shaped. AgriProfiles was envisioned as a worldwide effort, expressed in regional, national and institutional collaboration to share professional profiles in an open data environment for agriculture and food security.

One of the main obstacles encountered in similar worldwide efforts in recent years has always been the struggle to devise data flows that would on the one hand support aggregation and search engines at different levels (national, regional, thematic, global) and on the other hand make data contribution easy without disrupting normal institutional workflows.

This is why the envisioned approach for AgriProfiles is bottom-up and loosely coupled, leaving data management to data owners while identifying the role of regional and global partners in facilitating the data flow for enabling wider data sharing.
Therefore, the global AgriProfiles portal (this one) would only harvest from existing databases (at regional, national and institutional level), with no editing functionalities.
Then, VIVO installations in the cloud will be made available by different partners, according to their institutional mandates and in a subsidiary way, to help institutions and countries to manage data on their experts.